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CARACAS, Friday December 03, 2010 | Update
 
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Espionage
WikiLeaks scandal hits Venezuelan government

Cuban intelligence services directly advise Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, in what a US diplomat called the "Axis of Mischief," according to a State Department cable released by WikiLeaks

The Venezuelan president described Julian Assange as a brave man (Photo: Efe)
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  EL UNIVERSAL
Friday December 03, 2010  10:20 AM



November 29

WikiLeaks: US made efforts to isolate Chávez
Some of the confidential diplomatic communications leaked by WikiLeaks show "efforts to woo Latin American countries to isolate Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez", Spanish newspaper El País said.

The whistleblower website disclosed 1,000 documents on Venezuela, the Spanish newspaper said.

In a communication between French and US diplomatic sources in September 2009, Jean-David Levitte, a French official, described Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez as "crazy" and said that "Brazil was not able to support him anymore."

"Unfortunately, Chávez is taking one of Latin America's richest countries and turning it into another Zimbabwe," Levitte said in a telegram disclosed by British newspaper The Guardian.

The WikiLeaks revelations also showed that the US Secretary of State asked for information about the mental health of Argentine President Cristina Fernández.

France refuses to confirm Venezuela, Iran criticism
France refused to confirm on November 29 alleged sharp criticism of Venezuela and Iran by a senior French diplomat contained in US State Department documents leaked by the whistle-blowing WikiLeaks website.

A spokesman for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that WikiLeaks was "irresponsible" for disclosing US diplomatic correspondence which he said could "harm the resolution of issues essential for the security and stability of international relations and place people's safety at risk."

"We do not confirm any of the points attributed to French authorities and diplomats in these documents," the spokesman said in response to a question about the reported criticism of Venezuela and Iran.

British newspaper The Guardian published the text of a diplomatic telegram according to which that Jean-Davide Levitte, a senior French diplomat, had described Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez as "crazy."

November 30

Chávez praises WikiLeaks
Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez said on November 30 that leaks of diplomatic correspondence by whistleblower website WikiLeaks have exposed a "naked empire." Chávez added that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "should resign, it is the least she can do" given the seriousness of the revelations.

"The empire stood naked. I do not know what the United States is going to do. Well, they do not care about this. But how many things have been disclosed! They disrespect their allies with all these spying activities!" Chávez said during a cabinet meeting broadcast by state-run TV network Venezolana de Televisión (VTV), Efe reported

The Venezuelan president said that according to the documents leaked by WikiLeaks, the United States "refers to its allies in a very unusual way." The documents show "an attack against governments, people and international organizations."

The United States "is a failed and illegal state that disrespects ethical principles, and has lost respect for its own allies... and this (the documents leaked by WikiLeaks) shows it clearly," he added.

"I have to congratulate the people of WikiLeaks," Chávez said, and his director, Julian Assange, "for their courage and bravery."

"This man (Assange) has gone underground; he is making statements in a secret place. He even fears for his life," Chávez said.

Chávez criticized the reaction of the US Secretary of State, who on November 29 condemned in harsh terms the "theft" of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks and said that "it is an attack on the United States and the international community."

Clinton should resign, Chávez suggested. "It is the least she can do, together with all those other spies and delinquents working in the State Department. They should give an answer to the world rather than attacking and saying that it was a theft," the Venezuelan president said.

Chávez was outraged because the documents leaked by WikiLeaks show that Clinton allegedly ordered a "study on the mental health of Argentine President" Cristina Fernández. The Venezuelan head of state expressed his solidarity with his Argentine counterpart.

"Somebody should study Mrs. Clinton's mental state," said Chávez.

December 1

WikiLeaks reveals US concerns about presence of Cuban agents in Venezuela

Cuban intelligence agencies have deep involvement in Venezuela and enjoy direct access to President Hugo Chávez, as highlighted by US diplomatic cables leaked by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks to Spanish newspaper El País, according to the web page of the daily.

According to El País, in January 2006 a US diplomatic cable said that "the relations between Cuban and Venezuelan intelligence agencies are so close that they appear to be competing with each other for the Bolivarian government's attention," but this activity continues four years later, Efe reported.

In the third consecutive day of publication of documents of a collection of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables in possession of WikiLeaks, the Spanish newspaper released details about US concerns on the relations between the Castro regime and the Venezuelan government, and the degree of involvement of Cuba's intelligence services in Venezuela.

"The impact of Cuban involvement in Venezuelan intelligence could impact US interests directly, because Venezuelan intelligence services are among the most hostile towards the United States, but they lack the expertise that Cuban services can provide," said one of the diplomatic cables.

According to El País, the cable No. 241522 says that Cubans may have played an important role in the solution of internal struggles that led to the appointment of some Bolivarian politicians to replace a group of officials close to Chávez.

There is plenty evidence throughout the cables of Washington concerns over the presence of some 40,000 Cubans in Venezuela, who have been assigned to different ministries and institutions of the public administration.

Members of the US Embassy met with Herma Marksman, who is identified as the "sentimental and political partner" of President Chávez between 1984 and 1993, to try to determine the extent and origin of the personal and political relationship between Chávez and Fidel Castro.

Marksman disagrees with the view of Venezuela's opposition according to which Chávez is an idiot, the paper said. "She said that he is very determined and he is unwilling to trust others," said cable 18574, dated 2004.

The US Embassy was also concerned about the possibility of been spied, according to the documents.

Additionally, Brazilian Defense Minister Jobim "all but acknowledged" the presence of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Venezuela, but he refused to mention the issue because he did not want to undermine the possibility of mediation between Venezuela and Colombia, according to documents released by WikiLeaks.

December 2

Leaked documents claim that Cuban spies advise Chávez
Cuban intelligence services directly advise Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, in what a US diplomat called the "Axis of Mischief", according to a State Department cable released by WikiLeaks.

The diplomatic message, which was sent in 2006, expressed concern over Cuba's influence in Venezuela, a top US oil supplier, Reuters said.

"While the economic impact of Cubans working in Venezuela may be limited, Cuban intelligence has much to offer to Venezuela's anti-US intelligence services," said the cable posted on WikiLeaks website (wikileaks.org) on December 1.

Chávez has strengthened ties with Cuban leader Fidel Castro as well as with his brother Raúl, the current Cuban president, subsidizing the island's economy with oil in return for the services of doctors and advisers.

Chávez, a retired military officer, has incorporated Cuban-style militias in the armed forces. Experts on Venezuela have long said Cuban intelligence services train Chávez's bodyguards.

The document implied that Chávez trusts Cuban information more than his own intelligence services.

"Cuban intelligence agents have direct access to Chávez and frequently provide him with intelligence reporting without consulting with Venezuelan officers," the report said.

Meanwhile, the White House appointed Russell Travers as the WikiLeaks Czar to investigate the distribution of classified information as a result of leaks in its networks by WikiLeaks.

December 3

Mexico allegedly asked the US to engage Brazil to restrain Chávez

Mexico warned the United States about the influence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in Latin America Latina and asked the US to engage Brazil to restrain Chávez, according to a diplomatic cable of the US Embassy in Mexico disclosed by WikiLeaks and published on Thursday by Spanish newspaper El País.

In October 2009, the US embassy reported a meeting between then-US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Mexican President Felipe Calderón in which the Mexican leader "stressed that Hugo Chávez is active everywhere, including Mexico," AFP reported.

"The United States must be ready to engage the next Brazilian President," Carlos Pascual, the US Ambassador in Mexico, said in the diplomatic cable.

"Brazil is key in restraining Chávez," Calderón would have said.

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